Subscribe to our Newsletter

If you'd like to receive our most popular blog posts in our newsletter, please enter your name and email in the form below.

The Mystery of Miso

A post by The World’s Healthiest Foods asks, “what is miso and is there more than one type of miso? The word itself can mean several things, but it generally refers to a food found in Japanese culture that has several varieties.

The word “miso” means “fermented beans” in Japanese. It is produced through the fermentation of soybeans to create a thick paste that has the consistency of peanut butter. Miso has a sweet taste.

Sometimes this fermentation process can last three years or more. The soybeans may also be fermented with grains. These can include:

  • Barley
  • Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Hemp
  • Chutney

The mixing of different kinds of cereal grains with soybeans can create colors such as white, brown, and red. The darker the color the stronger the flavor. However, white miso is considered the most flexible since it isn’t very strong in flavor and can prepared with many other foods.

Miso can also refer to fermentation of other foods. For instance, fish miso refers to fish that have been fermented using the same process used to ferment soybeans and grains. The microorganism Aspergillus oryzae plays an important role in this kind of fermentation. It is a type of mold that is used in other Asian foods.  This kind of fermentation is called “koji.” Other kinds of fungi used in fermentation include:

  • Zygosaccharomyces rouxii
  • Clavispora lusitaniae
  • Pichia guilliermondii
  • Absidia corymbifera
  • Candida etchellsii

There are also several forms of bacteria that are used in fermentation, like Tetragenococcus halophilus and Staphylococcus gallinarum.

Miso is not just reserved for Japanese tastes.  It can be found throughout Asia and has different names in China, Korea, and Indonesia. Considering the widespread use of miso the Codex Coordinating Committee for Asia (CCASIA) has adopted standards for food quality for miso, especially standards for fermentation and the microorganisms used to create miso.

Want to learn more about miso?

Read the full article here:  What is Miso and Is There More than One Type of Miso?